reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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but those rustic barrels. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

we do love to read together. we’ve hiked the appalachian trail, the salt path, treacherous trails in iceland. we’ve read deeply moving novels like the shack, the best of us, factual accounts like 102 minutes, the 33….. we read mary oliver and rumi and john o’donohue and the book of joy and lyrics of songs and pablo neruda. it’s actually pretty magical to read aloud to each other.

romantic poetry is the stuff of friday night date nights. we haven’t read poetry on a friday night lately, but it sure sounds like a good plan – a fire out back, the gurgling pond, a fan gently keeping the pesky mosquitoes at bay, a glass of wine, a book of poetry and an itty-bitty-book-light to illuminate the pages.

our newest pablo neruda book asks questions – in spanish and in english. it is my preference to read them to david in spanish (neither of us having had any spanish instruction). we stare at each other – no, no, gaze adoringly at each other – and he tries to sort out what i asked. eventually, i give in and read the question in english. there are no answers in the book. only questions. and they are truly sink-your-teeth-into-them questions. we ponder and pull on them like taffy.

maybe tonight. a saturday night date night. glass of wine. firepit (though it will be about 80 degrees). if the lights strung across the yard aren’t enough, the itty-bitty will be nearby. and we will read delicious words of love and promises of bluebells and dark hazels. i won’t expect the bluebells or the dark hazels or gifts to be bestowed at the door, arriving through david’s remarkable ability to order them via AI or siri sending them as we read aloud (which may not be far from reality some day). unexpected gifts are rare these days, for many reasons. as we go through and declutter and clear out, we see we need little.

because, truth is, the sitting together is actually the gift.

but those rustic barrels of kisses…

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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on the curb. [d.r. thursday]

you can put most anything at the curb and it will soon disappear. scrappers are on the prowl looking for metal and old appliances, big and small, things that might be repurposed, things that might be tinkered with and sold.

when i put out these three wrought-iron candlesticks i included a sign. i measured the heights and jotted them on the sign that indicated they were candlesticks. i was hoping someone who really wanted some taper holders to jaunt by and find them on our parkway. i didn’t want them to go to scrap.

david said that he saw the person pull up and examine the sign and the bag of candlesticks and that this person gently placed it in the back of his truck, so i’m crossing my fingers he brought them home and showed his partner, suggesting they eat by taper or relax in the evening to the glow of candles. i guess a girl can hope.

because we don’t generally do big giant things, we tend to celebrate the little stuff. this past friday evening was one of those times. right after he finished work, on an absolutely beautiful late afternoon, we got into littlebabyscion and drove south. as is our way, we took the backroads, arriving at the botanic garden, happy to see the parking lot meagerly parked.

we strolled through slowly, arm in arm, talking and quiet. we only had about an hour and a half till its close, but it was an hour and a half of lovely. it shushed our minds and its serenity was contagious.

we drove home the back way, through a few small towns with bistro tables on the sidewalks and people gathered, eating and sipping wine. we pondered stopping and having a bite outside, but continued home to make our own small meal and sip wine under happy lights in our sunroom with our dogga by our side. it was a peaceful way to start the weekend.

you don’t have to lift every little thing, but we have learned it makes a difference. the tiny things – a candle burning, a strand of happy lights, a quiet walk, sniffing peonies in a garden, admiring the wild columbine in the woods, stopping to watch a deer glide across someone’s front yard – these things matter.

you don’t have to be there for each other each moment, but we have learned it makes a difference. the tiny things – helping the other up off the floor after painting shoe moldings, bringing the other a steaming mug of coffee in a tired-time, clinking the day’s accomplishments, crying with the other’s pain – these things matter.

in one of her books, joyce maynard wrote, “when a person gave less, he required less in return.” i suppose life could be easier that way, more centric, simpler. one would not have to notice stuff or do much of anything for another. the give-and-take of relationship would be low-bar and that might work for some.

but time and life have taught me a few lessons, some much harder than others. one is that apathy and paying attention are absolute opposites, particularly in relationship.

we’re putting apathy on the curb.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

dancing in the front yard 24″x24″


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well and stinky. [merely-a-thought monday]

hash marks are kept somewhere, keeping track of the days we do it well and the days we just basically stink at it…life. the generous thing about it, though, is that, for the most part, no one is waving those down-down-down-down-across-hatches at us. each day, we get to do it again, the best we can. and some days we do it well and some days we stink at it. sleep and repeat.

after six decades of doing life – which admittedly, isn’t really all that much – i can still say i am a newbie. every day i learn something new; every day i sort out a little somethin’; every day i adjust the on-the-dirt-attitude-indicator which, funny thing, is the same as in the air: keeping you relative to the horizon and making you aware of the smallest change in orientation. every day, on this fluid axis, i hope for a little grace – from others, from the universe, from myself.

and i try again. my sweet poppo would remind anyone who was listening, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” and so i do.

yesterday marked forty years since the day of my first marriage. it was a sunny warm day in florida; i was wearing my sister’s gown, my sister-in-law’s train and white stiletto macramé sandals. i carried a silk flower bouquet and the tiny white beaded purse i had gotten for my sixteenth birthday. i had little time in front of the mirror, trying to share getting-ready-time with my lovely big sister, my matron-of-honor, who has a more perfected and lengthier getting-ready practice.

at twenty-three, just three weeks after my college graduation, full of anticipation and excitement and hopes and dreams, a little unresolved trauma and not-just-a-little naiveté, i walked down the aisle to the good man who would become the father of my beloved children. and somewhere, the hash mark collection started. we did things well. we were stinky at things. and i absolutely take responsibility for my own stinkinesses, things that disrupted the horizon.

it’s been years now since i have seen him. time, in its wisdom and flow, has softened the ending, blurred the rough edges. i am grateful for the decades we spent together and for the unique and powerful children we raised. and i only wish the best of health and happiness for him and his wife. someday i hope to see them and share laughter and stories and memories of our daughter and our son as they grew. no one does this life all perfectly and sometimes it’s all much clearer as we reflect back, look at the shadows. grace lingers in the air, waiting.

this past week has brought its own challenges and it has brought its own bits of devastating news for people in our concentric circles. the circles widen and widen and we see the turmoil and angst and tragedy of others. the horizon wobbles under us and we try to adjust, to straighten up, level out. life is flying by. we wake to another day to do it well or stink at it. either one.

and desiderata reminds us, “in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul…” because some days we do it better than others.

“…be gentle with yourself.”

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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the circle of life. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

sometimes asking a question is purely a matter of politeness. you want the other person to know you value their thoughts, but, since you’ve already decided, their answer blurs into the gusty winds inside your mind and you do what you want to do anyway.

i can’t say that all the lost turtles and frogs and hurt birds and chipmunks and leg-damaged preying mantises in the wild have come home with us. i can say that i wanted them to. he generally feels that nature should be left to carry on in the circle of life (i can hear elton john singing now) and so i already know his answer to my “what should we do?” question. we’ve come across kittens on trails and i’ve stared at him without a word as he sorts for something to say about wild cats. of course there is nothing to really say about a tiny tabby in the woods, except that we are not really all that far from civilization and, surely, this cat belongs somewhere, so taking it home would equate to, well, kidnapping it. that, for sure, stops any taking-it-home-ness from happening.

were it up to me, particularly in this empty-nest-time, all the sweet creatures we come across would be our little friends. and the circle of life – if need be – would include a stint at our house, in our nest.

and elton john would be happy.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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what’s your chew? [merely-a-thought monday]

the minis are the best. though i haven’t had them in forever. available in the ever-popular neopolitan ice cream flavors, i prefer vanilla.

charleston chews. yum. everyone has their crutch. a while back, mine would have been kitkats. someone could have said to me, “you can’t kitkat your way out of this” and, though i beg to differ on the “can’t” and “out of this” parts, they would have been right-on about the kitkats. avoidance and tangents and, yes, even food in desperate situations, go hand in hand. diverting, skirting confrontation, maintaining decorum, keeping peace…some things require overt and potent bribes.

he says i change the subject. i get a kind of blank look on my face and “squirrel!” into some other path of conversation. were i to spend some time thinking about this, i am guessing he is right. once i am in an exchange that can only head downhill, my brain is rolodexing for something else to talk about, to veer off to, to act as distraction.

he hasn’t had a charleston chew. this is preposterous and certainly un-american, so i will have to remedy this. but i know if i held a dark chocolate bar or a chocolate chip cookie or, now, a piece of crumbcake, in my hand – even in the middle of a “talk” – he would bite.

because the truth is…you CAN charleston chew your way out of many sticky situations. you just have to know what a person’s charleston chew is.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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in the quarry. does my butt look big in this? [saturday morning smack-dab.]

a rock and a hard place. he is wedged between them and help-me-i’m-wedged-and-i-can’t-get-out he can’t escape. there is no choice but to say the wrong thing. go either way and he has sunk miserably to the levels of pond catfish, carp at best.

in these days of changing-changing-changing bodies and expectations of ourselves, we peer in the mirror and are astounded at what we see staring back. menopause and “men”opause (whatever on earth that is called) – in all its glory – has taken its toll on our metabolism and our hips and someone with a line-defining pen has carved on our faces while we sleep in the night. and those jowls. let’s not forget them.

so while i want him to understand – to really get it – to grok it at a cellular level – to feeeeeel my pain, he is thinking, “she’s beautiful” and tells me so. ohmyheavens, seriously? can he not share in my astonishment, couple with my what-do-i-do-now-ness, sympathize in a big-big way, help me pick out jeans in the next size?

there is no winning here.

it is the perpetual “does my butt look big in this?” question. over and over. forevermore.

he can “pretend” not to notice, which undermines his believability factor and, ultimately, leaves him stranded with no credibility when i am facing down the mirror. he can acknowledge and discuss the merits of aging with me, leaving me incredulous that he would suggest that i am aging. he can try to play long ball – riding the fence – acting like he can’t hear me – changing the subject.

no matter what, he will find himself in the rock garden.

eh. who am i kidding? it’s more like a deep, dark quarry.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️2022 kerrianddavid.com


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uh-huh. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

there is no such thing. “too tired to snore.” uh-huh.

there is also no such avoidance as “i just won’t sleep on my back.” or “i don’t snore when i turn my face to the left.”

sometimes, snoring happens.

and before you get all up-in-arms about my picking on him, i, yes, sometimes snore too. though naturally, it is delicate whilst in sweet slumber and sounds a bit like a beautiful melody floating over our pillows, wrapping us in a symphony of joy. uh-huh.

there is nothing worse in the middle of the night – pre-menopausal-menopausal-post-menopausal and wide-awake, ruminating over life and all its stuff, desperately trying to go to sleep, staring at the moon out the window, hot-flashing and then freezing, covers-off-ing-covers-on-ing, mushing and re-mushing the pillows, trying to relax through the tiny aches and pains catching up, hungry and thirsty and ignoring the tinkle-urge – than having the person next to you start snoring. like a semi coming through your bedroom. uh-huh.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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not a dress rehearsal. [merely-a-thought monday]

i don’t believe there is much more frustrating than trying to get the attention of someone you love, someone you care about. you keep upping the ante, waving your arms above your head, metaphorically jumping up and down, raising your own bar time and again. just to get their attention. you try more-achievements-for-1000-please, imploring-for-800-please, passive-aggressive-ignoring-for-600-please, lonely-weeping-for-400-please, poor-acting-out-behavior-for-200-please, but none of it seems to work.

i read in the book “the sentimental person’s guide to decluttering” (claire middleton) a few days ago that the author suspects “people who only need a cup, a plate and a blanket are cold-blooded”. i know this was in application to stuff-in-the-house. but i would hasten to add that it applies to relationship as well. some people, in an unplugged, unsentimental-about-other-people way, don’t need any more than a cup, a plate and a blanket. it all seems such a waste of good time.

when my adored big brother died i was pregnant with my second child so i was an adult, 33 years old. though it is just shy of 30 years ago now i still vividly remember the stunning realization that the world kept going anyway. i had lost grandparents; i was a bit familiar with grief. but this was strikingly different. i could not grok how the world kept going without my brother being able to feel it. this sounds like gibberish to some, i suspect, but grief is not linear nor is it rational. it asks questions of our heart and mind and it slays us with feelings of overwhelm at moments we don’t expect. i looked to a gift i was given – a ceramic sign that says “this life is not a dress rehearsal” – and i thought “pay attention!”.

a few days ago i was talking to one of my long-lost-and-now-found-cousins on the phone. she told stories of her mom, my dad’s sister, things i had never heard. i could literally feel my heart swelling as i listened and laughed and i wanted more tales of my sweet dad’s growing-up years. the summer home upstate new york, the rice in the sweater pockets from mice and the snakes in the outhouse, housekeepers i was unaware they had, the mob boss around the corner in the city. my grandpa’s felt business in brooklyn, piecing felt for pianos, of all things…that connection. a little bit of touch-back, an hour of family-i-had-lost-in-the-confusing-shuffle-of-life. building. paying attention. being astonished.

in a world full of intricacies and details and deadlines and accomplishment and competition and agenda, to stop and pay attention is sometimes a challenge.

to marvel at the song of birds at dawn, to watch the east sky change in answer to the western sunset, to taste the first sip of coffee in early morning, to stare wide-eyed at your grown children…astonishment in exponential depth.

to tell stories of life’s moments, the tiny ones, the top rung ones, the puddle-on-the-floor ones…is exponential sharing of living.

to pay attention to the other, really pay attention – without prompt and without reward – is exponential love.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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in it together. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

the up-north gang makes plans that feature rest rooms. we travel distances – often caravaning – but we know that we will be stopping. no ifs, ands or buts.

the drive to cedarburg is not long, but the last thing any menopausal woman OR – let’s-face-it – man wants to do upon arrival anywhere is to desperately look for a bathroom. there is no time for that. no one wants to feel imperiled by the call of nature.

it feels somewhat irresponsible to be writing about paper bags and tic-tacs and mini-mart restrooms while russia invades ukraine and people’s lives are in jeopardy. it feels a little like it could be interpreted as not-paying-attention. we sat with our coffee this morning and talked about families packing up a few things and leaving…just leaving…with no place to really go, not knowing what to take, separating from the men in the household who have been ordered to stay, conscripted. it is nothing shy of terrifying and we wonder, yet again, how it is that this world is so conflicted and broken. yet we look around and we see evidence of division and suffering and methods of control everywhere.

and so, last weekend, our little field trip to cedarburg’s winter festival was exactly the right thing to do. we stopped at the gas station we always stop at. they had added two new restrooms, good news for a bunch of 60plussers on the move. less waiting that way. we watched the sled dogs race, we wondered about whether the river had been frozen the day before for the bedraces. we wandered in and out of shops and finished our day all together in the tiny bar of a bed and breakfast there. faces reddened from the wind, laughter up and down the table.

our up-north-gang mini roadtrip was before the invasion. i would choose it again, though. because we need to be reminded – over and over – that those are moments not to be taken for granted. the silly oh-my-gosh-i-need-a-restroom-right-freakin-now shared times of this gang as we age and age. the familiarity and ease of people you have spent time with, people you are in menopause with, people who talk about utterly anything. presence is not to be underestimated.

we are fortunate. and we know it. and as we give thanks for all we do have – including people we love and new mini-mart restrooms and winter festivals and freshly fallen snow – all under a sky of freedom – we also lift up those in a land not really so far away. and we hope for their safety, their very lives and an end to conflict they did not choose.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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rose petal lemonade. [merely-a-thought monday]

it was a first. the very first time that david had a dozen roses sent to me.

i heard the knock on the door and went to see what it was. the tall package was sitting there. fromyouflowers.com the label read. i, excitedly, called d down from his office upstairs, saying, “look! i got flowers!!” he ran downstairs, looked at the box with a slight furrow and replied that they were ordered to arrive monday, on valentine’s day. i suppose that might have given us a glimpse into what-would-be.

i brought the box into the kitchen and grabbed the scissors to slice the tape, tears coming to my eyes as i gently pried the flap open and saw the red-red of roses inside. we’ve been daisy-people with a single rose-here-or-there, but never a dozen roses. i extracted the inner cardboard holding everything upright and looked down into the top of the bouquet.

there were loose rose petals everywhere. rose buds floated on top of the bundle and i could see the stems where they belonged. sensing that this was not going to be pretty, with d watching, i unwrapped the paper around the stems.

rose petals and leaves fell around us, on the counter, on the floor, on my clothes. though d had not ordered an invisible flower girl, it appeared that one had magically appeared to shower us with rose-love. clearly when he ordered this gift he hadn’t checked the option where the buds and leaves were attached to the stems.

his face said it all.

the one time he went all-out. the one time he surprised me with delivered-to-the-door-flowers. the one time he sent a whole dozen roses.

i gathered together all the rose petals and rose buds that still-tightly-held-their-shape-but-not-their-stems. i went into the dining room and took out a beautiful crystal bowl that used to be my sweet momma’s and poppo’s. i placed all the petals and buds into the bowl, arranging the buds so their graceful curls faced up.

i looked at david and said, “still beautiful. just different.”

a little later, work-day over, we lit a candle, clinked glasses and sent naked-stem-photographs to our friends and family, sharing the moment and lemonading rose petals.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this VALENTINE’S DAY